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"I don't think the report is true, but these crises work for those who want to make fights between people." Kulam Dastagir, 28, a bird seller in Afghanistan

RE: there's a lot of nodding
Topic: Miscellaneous 6:52 pm EST, Jan  9, 2015

James Comey:

In the wake of Mr. Snowden’s so-called revelations, there’s a wind blowing that I worry has blown what is a healthy skepticism of government power—I think everybody should be skeptical of government—to a cynicism so that people don’t want to be with us anymore. Meet us out behind the 7-Eleven late at night and I’ll talk to you as long as nobody sees me. Or wear a bag over my head to a meeting with the government. Because there is this wind blowing that there’s something bad if you’re touching the United States Government. We have to build even though there’s that wind. We’ve got to do our best to speak into that wind to try to explain how we’re using our authorities in the government.

How does healthy skepticism turn into cynicism?

Our public policy is an agreement, between the government, and the people, regarding what the government may and may not do. Those of us who are concerned about civil liberties, we often don't like where that agreement ends up.

Its important to appreciate that a lot of the people who the government wants to work with - a lot of the people in the private sector who protect the Internet - they care about civil liberties. They care about civil liberties because they are engineers, and to engineers, civil liberties seem logical.

Why should we care especially about civil liberties? Why programmers, more than dentists or salesmen or landscapers?

Let me put the case in terms a government official would appreciate. Civil liberties are not just an ornament, or a quaint American tradition. Civil liberties make countries rich. If you made a graph of GNP per capita vs. civil liberties, you'd notice a definite trend. Could civil liberties really be a cause, rather than just an effect? I think so. I think a society in which people can do and say what they want will also tend to be one in which the most efficient solutions win, rather than those sponsored by the most influential people. Authoritarian countries become corrupt; corrupt countries become poor; and poor countries are weak. It seems to me there is a Laffer curve for government power, just as for tax revenues. At least, it seems likely enough that it would be stupid to try the experiment and find out. Unlike high tax rates, you can't repeal totalitarianism if it turns out to be a mistake.

This is why hackers worry. The government spying on people doesn't literally make programmers write worse code. It just leads eventually to a world in which bad ideas win. And because this is so important to hackers, they're especially sensitive to it.

So the people that you need to work with, James Comey, the people who run this cyber world that is changing everything, many of those people are people who care about civil liberties. And people who care about civil liberties often don't like where the agree... [ Read More (0.3k in body) ]

RE: there's a lot of nodding

RE: disappointing, if not surprising
Topic: Miscellaneous 5:11 pm EST, Jan  9, 2015

noteworthy wrote:

We don't remove generals for battlefield failures? More context please.

Fresh Air:

His new book, The Generals, is about what he sees as a decline of American military leadership; it offers an argument about why the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have been so long and so frustrating.

He says it boils down to one word: accountability.

We've had several terrorist incidents in the west in the past few years, and consistently it seems the people involved were already on watch lists. The Tsarnaev brothers, these people in France. They were already known to be dangerous.

The point is that nearly a decade and a half after 9/11 we're still not connecting the dots.

The whole problem was that the dots weren't getting connected, and instead of figuring out how to connect them, we've been busy building warehouses of additional dots.

How many hundreds of millions are we spending hauling meta-data in from all over the world? What if instead of collecting data on everybody's Grandma, we spent those funds looking more closely at the people that we already have some actual basis to suspect might be involved in Terrorism?

Successful attacks are battle field failures and should demand reconsideration of our approach. Mass surveillance may be draining resources away from the focus that is needed.

RE: disappointing, if not surprising

The first congressman to battle the NSA is dead. No-one noticed, no-one cares. | PandoDaily
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:11 pm EST, Jan  5, 2015

What Pike and Church were uncovering turned out to be something much darker and harder to process than Watergate. With Watergate, there was a simpler narrative that reaffirmed America’s own fairytales about itself: Here was a bad apple, Nixon, and a few bad apples around him, eventually exposed and overthrown by the good guys—the valiant press, the politicians with integrity—proving that the American System worked after all.

But what the Pike Committee (and to a lesser extent the Church Committee) revealed was something much more systemic, much more complex and depressing to grapple with.

The first congressman to battle the NSA is dead. No-one noticed, no-one cares. | PandoDaily

Documents Shed Light on Border Laptop Searches | American Civil Liberties Union
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:49 am EST, Jan  3, 2015

House’s case provides a perfect example of how the government uses its border search authority to skirt the protections afforded by the Fourth Amendment. The government enjoys wider latitude to search people and their belongings at the border than it possesses elsewhere, for the purpose of protecting our borders. But the settlement documents demonstrate that the seizure of House’s computer was unrelated to border security or customs enforcement. It was simply an opportunity to conduct a suspicionless search that no court would ever have approved inside the country.

The records also show that HSI was acting in cooperation with—and perhaps at the request of—the Department of Justice, the Department of State, and the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division, not to protect our borders but to further a domestic investigation of the WikiLeaks disclosures. House’s connection to Manning through the Bradley Manning Support Network made him a target of that investigation. The government then used its access to airline passenger information to learn when and where David House, and others, would be traveling across our border (see the document here), and laid in wait to seize his computer and other electronic devices.

What we already knew - the border search exemption is used systematically as an end run around the Fourth Amendment.

Documents Shed Light on Border Laptop Searches | American Civil Liberties Union

Katie Moussouris on Twitter:
Topic: Miscellaneous 7:47 am EST, Jan  3, 2015

I really did have to decrypt my HD flying through CDG in France. I really had nothing to hide, but that's not the point, is it?

On the topic of unease...

Katie Moussouris on Twitter:

Topic: Miscellaneous 4:32 pm EST, Jan  2, 2015

I have to admit that I feel a great deal of unease sliding into 2015.

The fact that the Communications Decency Act was overturned on Constitutional grounds sent me on a 20 year misadventure in which I thought that Constitutional rights might matter. We can see now what their limits are.

The NSA operates a nationwide, domestic telecom metadata surveillance system without authorization from Congress. It's clearly unlawful, and that doesn't matter.

Its defenders claim loudly that it is lawful, and loudly attack anyone who knows better, while quietly telling the courts to not actually rule on the statutory question. They never intended to tell us about this program in the first place, and as this is supposed to be a Democracy, the telling us about it is a necessary part of making it lawful. But they didn't tell us, and now that its out anyway, they've been able to keep operating it regardless. Our authorization is obviously not required.

The NSA also monitored the content of all emails and text messages sent in the Salt Lake City area during 2002. Even the thin legal rationalizations propping up the meta-data program don't support that sort of surveillance system, so we don't talk about it.

If we can go on for year after year avoiding the question of what the law actually is, then in the end, the laws are irrelevant. They are an inconvenience to be navigated through artful spin. One might even find doing so to be sporting.

I had a brief moment of hope that the recent protests over the deaths of unarmed people at the hands of police would lead to a constructive dialog. Barack Obama finally seemed to be doing something that people put him in office to do. But, that possibility has now past. We've had two innocent officers murdered, and in response a host of guilty ones have literally turned their backs on Democracy.

That is our future. The police turning their backs on the people.

The police and the military are increasingly tribes of their own, separate from the rest of us, using THEIR monopoly on the use of force to negotiate with US for their interests, as it is in every failed state in the world. God forbid there are more attacks on the police - this could get much, much worse.

This year Congress will finally authorize the domestic surveillance program by law, making it a permanent fixture, and opening the door to the deployment of a similar meta-data collection infrastructure in the Internet. A record of every website you click on will be kept for 5 years, just in case you do something wrong, and we want to have a look at what you've been reading about.

The following year, we'll be asked to choose whether we want Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States, the most authoritarian pair of choices this country has ever seen. Neither will have a problem with selling more armor to the local governments. Neither is going to ratchet down the drug war. Neither will oppose secret domestic surveillance programs. Neither will do anything to contain the influence of special interests. Neither will do things to promote innovation. Both are very likely to involve the country in wars, and with gas prices dropping through the floor, there are going to be plenty of states out there with their backs against the wall - dry powder that could rapidly ignite.

We seem to be at the beginning of a dark time.

NYPD Shooting: Blue Lives Matter - The Atlantic
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:46 pm EST, Jan  2, 2015

When the elected mayor of my city arrived at the hospital, the police officers who presumably serve at the public's leisure turned away in a display that should chill the blood of any interested citizen. The police are not the only embodiment of democratic society. And one does not have to work hard to imagine a future when the agents of our will, the agents whom we created, are in fact our masters. On that day one can expect that the tactics intended for the ghettos will enjoy wider usage.

NYPD Shooting: Blue Lives Matter - The Atlantic

The Awnings of Walmart: Adding Ugliness to All the Other Indignities Foisted on the Poor | naked capitalism
Topic: Miscellaneous 10:48 pm EST, Dec 30, 2014

Is it necessary to signal to customers that they are clearly getting a bargain because the Walmart is so cheap that it buys (presumably) off color, icky paint so they can pass the savings off to customers? That’s a branding issue rather than a cost issue, since Walmart buys in such ginormous volumes and bargains so hard that they’d get the finest prices on whatever they purchased, including paint.

I've thought this myself - I live next door to a Walmart and I shop there more then I otherwise would as a consequence. Walmart is unnecessarily ugly. Why? Is it focus groups? Is it that the poor are conditioned to think that ugly things are appropriate for them?

The Awnings of Walmart: Adding Ugliness to All the Other Indignities Foisted on the Poor | naked capitalism

International Law and Cyber Attacks: Sony v. North Korea | Just Security
Topic: Miscellaneous 8:32 am EST, Dec 20, 2014

This is the most informed view you'll find anywhere regarding the legality of a "proportional response" by the United States to the SONY breach.

The commission of an internationally wrongful act entitles an injured State to engage in “countermeasures” under the law of State responsibility, as captured in Article 22 and 49-54 of the Articles on State Responsibility. Countermeasures are actions by an injured State that breach obligations owed to the “responsible” State (the one initially violating its legal obligations) in order to persuade the latter to return to a state of lawfulness. Thus, if the cyber operation against Sony is attributable to North Korea and breached U.S. sovereignty, the United States could have responded with countermeasures, such as a “hack back” against North Korean cyber assets. Indeed, it may still enjoy the right to conduct countermeasures, either because it is reasonable to conclude that the operation is but the first blow in a campaign consisting of multiple cyber operations or based on certain technical rules relating to reparations. It must be cautioned that the right to take countermeasures is subject to strict limitations dealing with such matters as notice, proportionality, and timing. Moreover, they are only available against States and the prevailing view is that a countermeasure may not rise to the level of a use of force.

International Law and Cyber Attacks: Sony v. North Korea | Just Security

FYI I'm speaking at: ShmooCon 2015 - January 16-18
Topic: Miscellaneous 3:21 pm EST, Dec 18, 2014

Deception for the Cyber Defender: To Err is Human; to Deceive, Divine
Tom Cross, David Raymond, and Gregory Conti

Since the first conflict between man, deception has played an integral role. Today on the network battlefield attackers enjoy many advantages and frequently employ deception as a powerful tool to accomplish their objectives. In this talk we discuss how to turn the tables on the attacker and employ deception strategies that deceive both human attackers and the code they employ to best defend your assets. This talk isn’t about social engineering or honeypots, but instead carefully analyzes dozens of deception techniques and how they can be woven together into a deception strategy that increases your defensive posture. We do so by mapping traditional and well-developed military battlefield deception techniques and principles onto the cyber domain. We’ll intersperse historical examples from military deception operations as well as provide new concepts for deception on the geographic, physical (OSI Layer 1), Logical (OSI Layer 2-7), persona, and supervisory planes that comprise the operational cyber environment. You’ll leave this talk inspired and armed to better defend your networks, systems, and people while forcing your attackers off balance.

Tom Cross is CTO at Drawbridge Networks. Previously he was the Director of StealthWatch Labs at Lancope and manager of X­Force Research at IBM/ISS. He has spoken at numerous security conferences, including Black Hat, DEFCON, CyCon, HOPE and RSA.

David Raymond is an Associate Professor at West Point where he teaches cybersecurity and coaches the CTF Team. He is an Army officer with a unique mix of experience in armored maneuver warfare and Army automation.

Greg Conti is Director of the Army Cyber Institute at West Point. He has spoken at Black Hat, DEFCON, ShmooCon, and RSA.

FYI I'm speaking at: ShmooCon 2015 - January 16-18

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